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FDR Press Conference #159, Little White House, Warm Springs, Nov. 21, 1934


Press Conference Held at Little White House,
Nov. 21, 1934

ROOSEVELT: Drape yourselves around. Sit on the sofa, Russell. Fred does have to sit down; he is a little in the light, otherwise he is all right.

Well, I asked the Trustees to come here today because we have been working on this thing for about a couple of weeks now, on the subject of a Birthday Ball. The easiest way to describe it is to give you the letters all about it. Henry L. Doherty suggested another Birthday Ball and we put it up to the Trustees and the Trustees made a recommendation which, really, is in two parts. You will get this thing (indicating mimeographed release). The first is:

“to encourage, coordinate and enlarge the present established orthopaedic (sic) facilities and services wherever possible so that those already handicapped by Infantile Paralysis may be helped:

Second - to secure money for the continuance of scientific research which aims at preventing the disease itself and which must be carried on until successful if thousands of our children are to be spared its devastating aftermath.

For these reasons we feel that the willingness of Colonel Doherty again to place at the disposal of this humanitarian cause the national Committee for the Birthday Ball of the President is a magnanimous action which comes at a most opportune time, and it is our hope that you will again lend the Committee your birthday, not for the benefit of the Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, but for a further effort toward the solution of the problem as a whole.

At a meeting of the Trustees of Georgia Warm Springs Foundation held today I was authorized to inform you that the Trustees, therefore, recommend to you that Colonel Doherty’s offer of service be accepted and that a second Birthday Ball be held on the occasion of your next birthday in January 1935.

Furthermore, we recommend, in keeping with the two main phases of the problem as stated above, that ‘seventy percent of the funds raised through and by the American public on the anniversary of your next birthday be used directly to help those committees, individuals, doctors, hospitals and other organizations struggling with the task of providing care and treatment in their communities, counties or states for those afflicted with Infantile Paralysis, such funds to be expended within the community or within the nearest geographical unit of which the community is a part; and that thirty percent of the funds raised be used to maintain and intensify the efforts of medical research to develop preventatives of and immunization against Infantile Paralysis with the purpose of eradicating this scourge exactly as medical science has successfully combatted and brought under control smallpox, diphtheria, typhoid fever, yellow fever and other similar maladies.’”

It means that the money would go, 70 per cent locally and 30 per cent for research and none of it to the Foundation.

And then I wrote to Colonel Doherty yesterday and said:

“My Dear Colonel Doherty:

Your generous offer of November 8th is most gratifying to me.

The Trustees of Georgia Warm Springs Foundation have acted on my request for their recommendation in this matter and their suggestions which have my hearty approval are transmitted to you herewith.

It gives me much happiness to lend my next birthday, January 30th, 1935, to the National Committee for the Birthday Ball for the President for this purpose, in hope that this effort will bring us nearer to the goal of forever ending the tragic consequences of Infantile Paralysis.

May I again express, through you, my gratitude to all those who are making my birthday the occasion for serving in this humanitarian cause.

Always sincerely,”

Well, there is the whole thing. Mr. Kannee has copies for you. I think that covers it all right. We have been working on it quite hard for two weeks at various meetings of the Trustees.

Q:  Mr. President, can you give us the names of the Trustees here today?

ROOSEVELT: Mr. Leighton McCarthy, Dr. Hoke, Mr. Keith Morgan, Mr. Arthur Carpenter. Then we have the regular meeting of the Trustees the day after Thanksgiving.

MR. CARPENTER: Thanksgiving day, the afternoon.

ROOSEVELT: I think this will be a great thing because it means that a great many communities—and this is not for quotes at all—a great many communities have not facilities and will now be able to start their own facilities for orthopaedic (sic) work of all kinds or to coordinate their work with the next community that has got it and improve and build up that community. It does not mean every little village will have a hospital but they will be able to get together on a geographical basis.

Q: Is that broad enough in certain cities so that if they wanted to pick up children they could use it that way for individual cases?

ROOSEVELT: If the town has its own hospital, certainly.

Q: Do you recall the total raised?

MR. MORGAN: One million, 330 thousand—

ROOSEVELT: and 61 cents.

MR. MORGAN: Sixty-one dollars and eight cents.

ROOSEVELT: I am wrong. (laughter)

Q: Who got that eight cents?

ROOSEVELT: I think Cary Grayson kept it; I do not know.

MR. McINTYRE: I think that went for postage.

Q: Any other news?

ROOSEVELT: I do not believe there is any other thing. I have been studying all kinds of reports and as a result there will be all sorts of interesting things coming out in the course of the next two or three weeks. Nothing startling. I have been studying this morning a tremendously interesting report on tying in together of all the map-making facilities of the United States Government. We found that there are several dozen agencies that are making maps and we are going to tie them in together as a first step toward a greater consolidation. It does not mean that one organization will do it but it eliminates a good deal of duplication and will save money.

At the same time, we hope to be able to start the standard key map of the United States. A certain amount of work has already been done on that but it ought to go on for the benefit of all kinds of services, states, municipalities, counties and the Federal Government work. I just use that as an example of the kind of studying that we have been doing.

Q: Are you planning consolidations on a larger scale in any of the Departments?

ROOSEVELT: No, these are minor.

Q: What is a key map?

ROOSEVELT: Why don’t you wait and let me give you a good story on this? Well, it is a standard topographic map, all on the same scale. We find, for example, that the Government has been doing mapping work on two or three different scales which have no relationship to each other and this standard map of the entire country would take a good many years to complete but would cover every portion of the country.

Q: It has been started?

ROOSEVELT: It has been started.

Q: Under what one of these agencies?

ROOSEVELT: I couldn’t tell you; I do not know. The Topographic Survey, I think.

Q: Mr. President, in the absence of Joe Smith, I will ask this question: Is there anything new from London. I cannot put the accent to it (laughter).

ROOSEVELT: No, I haven’t had a thing.

Q: Mr. President, in the absence of the Count, I might ask you—

ROOSEVELT: (interposing) Have we appointed anybody in Washington. No. They did appoint somebody the other day.

MR. McINTYRE: That got quite a play, so did the power story.

Q: In that connection, on power, do you care to amplify—

ROOSEVELT: (interposing) Why don’t we wait until Friday and let me talk off the record? Everybody gather around here and let me talk off the record because there are very few of you who are here now who were here two years ago and you will remember that two years ago we had a perfectly grand informal off-the-record talk about T.V.A., what it was all about, and I think perhaps it will help to do it again.

MR. McINTYRE: I think on part of it you might just give them background and not all of it off the record.

ROOSEVELT: Most of it will be off the record.

MR. McINTYRE: Yes, I appreciate that.

Q: We are for you, Mac; talk that background. (laughter)

Q: Can you tell us about the new relief plans?

ROOSEVELT: Nothing on it. There won’t be until the third of January. I am just thumbs down on it until the third of January.

Q: Did you read Donald Richberg’s speech in Atlanta?

ROOSEVELT: No, did he speak yesterday?

MR. McINTYRE: The day before yesterday.

ROOSEVELT: No, I have not seen it.

MR. McINTYRE: They say he made a speech.

Q: Yes, he did.

Q: Governor Talmadge had some suggestions for you the other day. Did he have them up last night?

ROOSEVELT: No.

MR. McINTYRE: Off the record, we certainly had Gene on the spot last night.

ROOSEVELT: We did not talk about the sovereign State of Georgia at all last night.

Q: Was there anything in the conference last night?

ROOSEVELT: No. We talked about the unemployment insurance thing and then here is the thing I have got to give you off the record. I did talk with him a little bit about the idea of a Southeastern Council corresponding with the New England Council and told him what had been the actual experience of the New England Council. It started off very well and it has lately become, primarily, an organization of the bigger businessmen. It does not have any of the other aspects, the Government officials or the citizenship represented on it and it has tended, in New England, to be a body which passes resolutions and fires them at the heads of individual governors and gets a great deal of the limelight—has a hotblooded executive secretary, and things like that. In other words, it made the mistake of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

On the Southeastern thing, if they want to develop it, the Governors ought to be a little careful.

Q: They did organize last night in Georgia Hall, and invited Governor Laffoon (of Kentucky) and Governor McAlister (of Tennessee) and Conner (of Mississippi) to join them on the tenth of December.

ROOSEVELT: That is exactly the difference. In other words, the New England Council is an association primarily of businessmen and the governors haven’t any kind of say within it at all. The New England Council shoots things at Governors’ heads.

I told the Governors last night that I thought as a result of my long experience in the big Governors’ Conference—I was on the Executive Committee for four years—that if they would start a regional conference, all governors and nobody else, it would be an awfully good thing for the Southeast.

Q: That is what they did last night.

ROOSEVELT: There is one very effective local governors’ conference and that is the western governors—that is the Rocky Mountain States and the Coast—but only the governors attend them and they do not have any outsiders in at all. When I was in Albany we had a conference up there that related to the Industrial Northeast to study unemployment insurance, old age pensions and things like that. That was a very effective instrument. But the general thought that I told them about last night was that if we could have five or six regions in this conference—five or six governors covering the region, that if anything came up between them and the Federal Government wee could get them up to Washington, getting five or six governors instead of forty-eight.

Q: I think last night they decided to hold quarterly meetings and the governor of the state that holds the particular meeting becomes the governing officer for the succeeding quarter. That gives everybody a chance to become president of the Governors’ Conference.

Q: There were reports in Birmingham this morning that Governor-elect Bibb Graves is coming here to see you this morning?

ROOSEVELT: He is sitting outside.

Q: He was going to ask that the Government purchase $100,000,000 worth of State bonds in order to promote a subsistence home project to care for the unemployed.

ROOSEVELT: That is a new one to me.

Q: Will you send him down to our cottage?

ROOSEVELT: It depends on what he says. He may sneak home over the mountain.

Q: Mr. Wilkie of Commonwealth and Southern said in a statement in New York that he was sure you would give the utility people a chance to give you the facts on T.V.A. Do you expect ot receive any of them?

ROOSEVELT: That was kind of him. (laughter)

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

MR. McINTYRE: May we have the Conference (the next Press Conference) at two o’clock, with the understanding that it is for the morning paper release?

Q: I might report that we had a meeting last night for the redistribution of wealth.

ROOSEVELT: Did it circulate?

Q: We might also add that I have petitioned the White House Correspondents’ Association officials to name a receiver in bankruptcy for some of the boys.

ROOSEVELT: Are you a creditor?

Q: Much obliged.

ROOSEVELT: Then you do need a receiver in bankruptcy.

Complete Presidential Press Conferences of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Da Capo Press, New York, 1972, Vol. 4, #159.